Ending Aging And Living Forever with Aubrey De grey | Yuli Azarch

Ending Aging And Living Forever with Aubrey De grey

Yuli Azarch Yuli Azarch | September 9, 2019 | No Comments on Ending Aging And Living Forever with Aubrey De grey

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Aubrey De Grey works on the development of medical innovations that can delay any form of age-related ill-health. His main focus is on rejuvenation. Aubrey is the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of SENS Research Foundation, a charity that undertakes and funds research that cures and prevents the diseases and disabilities of aging.

He is also the VP of New Technology Discovery of AgeX Therapeutics, a biotechnology startup developing new therapies in the field of biomedical gerontology. Aubrey de Grey is also the editor-in-chief of Rejuvenation Research, a peer-reviewed scientific journal that covers research on rejuvenation and biogerontology.


What We Talked About?

  1. Aubrey’s Background.
  2. Research Strategy For Reversing Aging. 2.59
  3. Genuine Rejuvenation 08:29
  4. What is Already Available 10.11
  5. No Age Limit 17:47
  6. The Idea of Population Overgrowth. 21:10
  7. Repair Aging vs. Preventing Aging. 27:39
  8. The Biggest Obstacle to Anti-aging 32:14
  9. Best Age for Therapy 40:16
  10. Show Notes.

Aubrey’s Background. 

Although Aubrey practices biology, he started his career as a computer scientist. He worked several years after obtaining his computer science degree on Artificial Intelligence (AI). During that time he met a marine biologist and discovered that biologists, in general, were not interested in aging. Since then, he studied and has been working around the biology of aging.

Around the year 2000, he found that biologists were overlooking to study on how to defeat aging with medicine. Since then, he has been working towards that direction and on the idea of comprehensive repair of the damage that the body accumulates through life. It has been quite theoretical, but it is now a very mainstream concept and scientists have done considerable progress in implementing it.


Research Strategy For Reversing Aging.

SENS is a research foundation that focuses on the early stage proof of concept work. It takes concepts and projects to a sufficient point to be taken further for development by the private sector, where they can get more funding and investors that what they could get philanthropically.

Since SENS began, they have focused on research on different cellular and molecular damages throughout life, based on the classification of seven major categories. “Unrepaired damage contributes to the efficiency of our tissues,” Aubrey said. “When important microscopic structure stops working, tissue function gets affected – at the beginning, it might appear unnoticeably, but it results in diseases and what is commonly known as aging”. During the years, they have looked deeply into those categories to develop effective therapies to reverse aging.  

One category they have been working on is the elimination of waste products that accumulate inside the cell. In this category, they use diverse approaches and in some cases, it is quite innovative.

SENS has found ways through concepts and approaches that are having positive outcomes and developments.  By partnering with other institutions like Yale University they have been published in journals and magazines like Science Magazine and managed to bring concepts to start-up companies.


Genuine Rejuvenation.

According to Aubrey, lifestyle and diet might have some modest effect, in most cases, on the rate on which damage is generated. But living correctly, through a good diet, exercise and other healthy habits do not guarantee to remain healthy and prevent aging.

At SENS they are not focused on slowing down the rate of which damage is generated, but instead, they are focused on repairing the damage that has already been created. This consists of genuine rejuvenation, which is taking people back the clock and making people biologically younger again.

It is obvious that if SENS can do that, then they have a more useful type of therapy because this rejuvenation can be applied to people that are in their middle age or older now. But what is not so obvious is that the repair of damage is a great deal easier than the retardation of the damage creation. 

Although we could find a few options which might be able to postpone a couple of years, the impact on aging differs too much from person to person. Some might be better off taking supplements, others with fasting. There is plenty of diversity on the genetic level between people.

“As of today, there is no therapy available that can potentially reduce aging, but obviously, you can stop smoking and do the things your mom told you to. Above that, there is nothing like treatment or nutritional supplements.”


What is Already Available?

Aubrey mentioned that what can help in regeneration which is already available is high-technology work with stem cells. But in SENS they are more focused on gene therapy for a variety of different conditions. One of the main programs consists in developing a new generation gene therapy mechanism that would be more powerful in terms of safety and efficiency than anything that exists today. But at the stage, we are now, the therapies we think that are the most effective are not yet in clinical trials but just in an early-stage clinical trial.

What is available right now is pretty expensive because unfortunately there is not much demand. They are positive to your health in the long-term but those therapies still have a long way to go. With time, they will make them more available. There will be more government pressure and subsidies.

According to Aubrey when they get to the point where therapies are really comprehensive, societies will ensure that they are available irrespectively of the ability to pay. This will happen simply because they will pay for themselves by keeping people healthy and contributing to wealth in society.

No Age Limit

According to Aubrey, there should be no limit on how life can be enlarged with some of the therapies studied by the research foundation. The main idea is to be able to periodically restore the types of damage that the body is repairing. What is needed is to try to get the level of damage below the threshold threat of damage that the body can tolerate. 

“By periodically repairing the body people would not die from sickness anymore, but the cause could be of an external agent such as road damage, asteroid collision…”

According to Aubrey, Humanity has a 50% chance of getting to the point of longevity escape velocity. The point when the therapy is sufficiently comprehensive that people will be able to stay one step ahead of the problem. He calculates we might not arrive at that point in less than 17 years. But he also acknowledged there is a 10% chance that we might not even get there in 100 years.

As of today, he is 56 years old so he has a 50% chance to enjoy any of the therapies. He confessed he does not think much about that because, for him, the priority is a humanitarian one. The fact that every single day he can bring forward the defeat of aging in 100,000 lives saved is what counts.


The Idea of Population Overgrowth.

Population overgrowth is possibly the single most popular concern that arises from people when they consider the possibility of eliminating aging. It is fairly shocking that one would say that is better to let people get sick and die rather than having fewer kids.

According to Aubrey, the speed at which population would grow, even if we eliminate all deaths, is not as scary as we imagine. It would be outrun as the rate of the carrying capacity of the Earth would grow as well. Pollution will become a problem, but we are tackling it already as a society. Solar and renewable energies have become more available and similarly agriculture. Developments like artificial meat, in 17 years from now, will be tastier and better than is today. 

 “The idea about the population being a problem is really just misplaced, is something that the answers are obvious and easier”.

Aubrey explained that scientists are finding solutions to eliminate plastic with bacteria. He recognized that you can do a lot with bacteria because they are incredibly diverse. They evolve on the basis of what they need to grow with. This has been studied in terms of environmental decontamination.


Repair Aging vs. Preventing Aging.

Aubrey De Grey explained that repairing is easier than slowing down the damage that is been created. If we would like to slow down the damage that is been accumulated, we would need to make our metabolisms run more cleanly. But Aubrey considers that this is incredibly hard because our metabolism is a complex network of interconnected processes.

“So far, we know that there is no way to tweak the metabolism to stop from doing the thing they don’t want it to do… the creation of damage, without at the same time stopping it to do the things we need it to do to keep us alive.”

Aubrey explained that since the damage is essentially inert, it does not participate in the metabolism process. Because of that, it is possible to target and eliminate it without interfering with the complex network.


The Biggest Obstacle to Anti-aging

Aubrey highlighted that the lack of funding is the biggest obstacle for the study of anti-aging. It is well-known that biomedical research is expensive. He admitted that they could have gone much faster with more funds. 

In some areas, it is getting a bit better because some people are getting interested in and have gotten investors. But some other areas are not raising enough concern and are much neglected. He wonders why people are not as a concern as they are with population growth.

He believes the fundamental reason for this lack of awareness, is psychological. So according to him, we need people to be more knowledgeable about this topic. 

“There is not such a thing as immortality, but we can diminish the chances of biological death and later on focus on other external causes of death”


Best Age for Therapy

According to Aubrey, there should be no difference to get treated when younger or older. He believes that one could even argue that is better to wait to the age of 50 to use any of these therapies than to do it at the age of 10. This is because the longer you wait the more effective the therapy will be. Also, you will be able to repair more and the therapy you will be able to use will be more effective and modern. 

Aubrey predicts that as therapies and their applications will change over time.  He believes that they will mostly be available via injections.

Aubrey de Grey confessed that at the beginning there could be some surgery involved but application by injection will be the future. He speculates that in a later stage, therapies will come up as multiple vaccinations come up today, one-shot where different treatments like stem cells and gene therapy will be combined. 


Show Notes.

  • SENS sens.org rejuvenation biotechnology a reality.

Thanks, Aubrey De grey!

To know more about Aubrey, follow him on his  Twitter (@aubreydegrey) account or Facebook (aubrey.degrey)


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